JBS has been ordered to pay 20 million reais (approximately $3.6 million) following an outbreak of Covid-19 at a Brazilian beef plant, according to a court ruling seen by Reuters.
The company were ordered to pay the fine in respect to damages related to workers’ contamination in a beef plant in São Miguel do Guaporé.
The JBS plant in northern Brazil is said to be the main source of contamination and spread of the virus there, a local judge said as he ordered the facility shut last May, as cited by Reuters.
Reuters said at least 23 JBS facilities in Brazil witnessed Covid-19 outbreaks last year and the company faced at least 18 lawsuits in specialised labour courts, over the need for stricter worker protections. In January, China lifted pandemic-related bans imposed on imports from two of JBS’ meat plants in Brazil.
Labour prosecutor Priscila Schvarcz told Reuters that the fine marks the first victory for the plaintiffs since they started suing JBS last year over a lack of adequate health protocols.
The meat packer has also received criticism for its workplace safety in the US, with many plants also shutting down in several states.
Labour prosecutor Helena Romera said damages paid could be used to purchase health equipment, but JBS may still appeal, as reported by Reuters. The ruling, dated 14 March, also entails a series of obligations such as helping test workers with Covid symptoms and imposing a 1.8 metre distance between them at the production line.
In an emailed statement to FoodBev, JBS said: “Since the outbreak of the pandemic, [JBS’] main goal has been to protect the health and safety of its team members in all 135 production units in Brazil.
“To protect its 145,000 team members across Brazil, JBS implemented a robust protocol of rigorous preventative measures in all its facilities which are in compliance with the recommendations of international and national health agencies. The protocol was created under the guidance of medical professionals renowned for their specialisms in infectious diseases.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020
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